Expats Are Born Not Made. Discuss


The minute we enter education we’re on the assembly line of modern life, primed for our encounters via a series of checkboxes that must be ticked before we can progress to the next level. Our performance determines our place in life and society. What is school if not a system of judging an individual’s right to life through labor? Does our current education system teach us to think critically, to examine, question and explore? Up to a point, but there’s no arguing that where there’s a conflict the principal drive is to meet quotients and targets.

After years of exposure to this way of thinking it can be difficult for people to perceive the world and their place in it in any other way – but there are those who see things differently.


Are the skills and strengths needed to be a successful expat learned or innate?

It’s my belief that expats are a breed of people less likely to accept the choices handed down to them by life. People like Lindsay De Feliz, who gave up a successful corporate career, marriage and luxury lifestyle for a life as a scuba diving instructor in the Dominican Republic, (read all about it in her book What About Your Saucepans, reviewed here) and Jack Scott the London hack who carved out a life in a muslim country with his partner Liam and wrote about the experience in the runaway bestseller Perking The Pansies.

Then there are those who strive for an existence more in tune with their philosophy like Jo Parfitt who’s developed the idea of a portable career into a book and a lifestyle (read my review of A Career In Your Suitcase here) or Russell Ward, who documents his Search For A Life Less Ordinary on his blog of the same name and whose dissatisfaction with the 9-5 led him to drastically realign his work choices.

Expats are among those who realize there’s more to it — no one HAS to do something they don’t want to do for the rest of their life. They’re more inclined to consider the previously unconsidered, to look beyond what they know to find answers, to take a leap of faith.


Does travel broaden the mind or does a broad mind lend itself to travel?

What type of people become expats? Risk-takers? Extroverts? Not necessarily – some grow up ‘in the system’ having expatriated with their parents, others dip a toe in the water with a 12 month posting and realize five years and three relocations later they’re up to their necks. As an introvert with a mental health condition I doubt I would have made it onto the ‘Most likely’ list, but I’m here and I’m thriving.

You don’t even need to have journeyed widely – travel has a way of opening even the most tightly shuttered minds and once you feel the rush of fresh ideas it’s hard to give it up. They don’t call it the ‘travel bug’ for nothing.

Rowing out to sea

What expats have in common is an ability to weather the storm and a willingness to adapt to changing situations. While most people have these attributes to a greater or lesser degree, they’re skills that take time to develop and are not instantly bequeathed by the right situation, hence stories like this.

Linda Janssen knows what I’m talking about, she’s written an entire book on the subject of emotional resilience, the psychological strength that enables people to see the difficulties of expat life – identity and career crises, constant change, cultural obstacles – as challenges rather than torture. Her book, ‘The Emotionally Resilient Expat: Engage Adapt & Thrive Across Cultures’ (my review coming soon) is an insightful conglomeration of collected wisdom harvested from those who’ve ‘been there’ (many thanks Linda for including my input within its pages), and speaks to a burgeoning community of ‘pioneers’ – the World Bank estimates 215 million people are living outside their country of birth.


Expat – it’s a state of mind

Expat life is about rolling with the punches – in contacts between cultures, beliefs about superiority or inferiority due to limited and partial world view, are invariably wrong-headed and destructive. Aspects of life in a new location may initially seem alien, even ill advised, but looking beyond pre-conceived ideas and striving to understand them is what marks out the successful expat from those ‘doing time’ abroad.

Culture isn’t static; change is continual, and flexibility is necessary for successful adaptation. I think expats are born not made, not necessarily to become expats, but with that ability to freewheel their thoughts, to think ‘outside the box’. Just think how many expats-in-waiting there are who may never test their mettle on foreign soil, but who find ways to break new bounds on home turf.

 Colin Wright 'one life' quote


When life doesn’t promise anything except possibility it seems a shame to turn your back on such a generous gift. What have you done, or planned to do, to embrace the unknown?

Linked to the My Global Life Link-Up at SmallPlanetStudio.com


By Aisha Ashraf

An autistic Irish immigrant in a cross-cultural marriage, Aisha Ashraf is the archetypal outlander, writing to root herself through place and perspective. Published in The Rumpus, The Maine Review, River Teeth, HuffPost and elsewhere, her work explores the legacy of trauma, the nature of being an outsider and the narrow confines of belonging. She currently lives in Canada.


  1. 12 years ago, I pack my bag and came to uk. With not a lot of money, skills or friends. I’m so glad I make this move otherwise I won’t be learning so many basic skills!

  2. I think you answer your title question within the body of the post – I’d say made, not born. If you’re a TCK born to expat parents, following an expat life seems ‘natural’ based on what you’re familiar and comfortable with (nurture vs. nature). And the world is full of plenty of first-time expats/immigrants/global nomads/serial wanderers/wayfarers who yearn to explore our world, whether for excitement, adventure, cross-cultural understanding, economic opportunities, a ‘better life’, etc. While I believe there are issues unique to expatriate/cross-culturals – why I wrote my book, although everyone needs/benefits from emotional resilience. I think we walk a fine line when we start the self-congratulatory lauding of how ‘special’ we are. We’ve made choices which include wonderful opportunities and some definite challenges, just with a different spin. There are plenty of immensely courageous, creative, ‘outside-the-box’ thinkers and inventors who worked within the confines of their cultures/borders yet accomplished amazing feats greatly benefiting civilization, just as there are those who followed the call of the open road/sea/trail. Whatever our choices, we do our best to make our own destiny.

    1. I think there’s little in expat life that can’t be used as a metaphor for Life as a whole, and that being a happy expat is a state of mind not confined to expats alone, hence my reference to “expats-in-waiting… who may never test their mettle on foreign soil, but who find ways to break new bounds on home turf” – entrepreneurs, self-starters and inventors were precisely the kind of people I was thinking of.
      The post certainly wasn’t meant to be ‘self-congratulatory’. I was interested in what makes something seem exhilarating to some, yet sound like the epitome of torture to others. I used myself as an example of someone usually considered unlikely to thrive in such circumstances.
      There are so many people who’d love to make the leap but hold back, unsure they have what it takes; I wanted to show the factors governing whether you sink or swim aren’t as cut and dried as we like to think.
      I’m still erring more to the side of of nature – personality, character traits, attitude – but often those can be modified through concerted effort (as you state in your book – a person’s level of emotional resilience can be strengthened) so overall I’d say both play a part, just in differing degrees.

    2. Fancy meeting you here Linda…?! as with everything you write, I agree with your sentiments completely! Many of your words of wisdom, I have carried with me.

  3. I don’t know that I’d go as far as to say that people are born expats. I had a very conventional mindset when I was younger, albeit combined with a somewhat bossy nature and issues with authority so perhaps I’m already contradicting myself here.

    When I left college and started working for a bank, it was still in the days when jobs were for life. My boyfriend at the time wanted to go to Australia to live and work and I squashed the idea immediately – I couldn’t even contemplate moving abroad, let alone to the other side of the world. Admittedly, I had never been on holiday outside the UK so the rest of the world was still scarily unknown but I was okay with that.

    It wasn’t until a few years later, on my first foreign holiday (a package trip to Kos), that I realised that not only was travelling fun, it was something I could do all by myself if necessary.

    I can remember returning to my bank job and sticking with it for a few more years, all the while thinking that there had to be more to life than what I was doing, until the day I decided to quit the job and travel the world. It’s been a bumpy road but one I am very glad I took. It’s led me to places, people and situations I would never have dreamed of and most definitely allowed me to grow as a person.

    You summed up my experience with this sentence “…travel has a way of opening even the most tightly shuttered minds and once you feel the rush of fresh ideas it’s hard to give it up.”

    1. I think travel appealed to something that was in you already Julie – you hinted at a strong independent streak in your formative years, the rest of your life was just the pieces falling into place perhaps…

  4. Do agree. Adaptability …. do think it’s inbred. The ability to accept the world for what it is and roll with the punches. Doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll leave your homeland … What a wonderful post.
    As an expat child and now as an expat, I do believe it’s a state of mind. I’ve met many a person who lived outside their homeland who just couldn’t adapt. It ended up making them a foreigner, not an expat. No judgement whatsoever …. It’s just not for everyone.

  5. I am oftened surprised by the number of people who say “I could never do that.” People know themselves too well. I’m grateful to have the travel bug and I love the expat life.

    1. I don’t know that people know themselves so well. One of the reasons I tried not to over-think our decision was because I knew I’d talk myself out of doing it.I discovered skills and strengths in myself that weren’t evident to me before, yet they must have been lying there dormant all along.

  6. Great piece Aisha. I am not sure of the answer and whilst I travelled as a child with my family as my father was in the forces, so did the rest of my siblings and they are happy to lead a more conventional life without the desire to discover new places, new people and new cultures then I had. I think I was always searching for something and they were not. I love this quote from the Dalai Lama that maybe has something to do with it.
    The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

  7. In my experience, I can confirm: “What expats have in common is an ability to weather the storm and a willingness to adapt to changing situations.” and “flexibility is necessary for successful adaptation” and expats are used to think “‘outside the box’”. – I’m an expat-since-birth but did think that I would spend my life in the first country I lived in (Italy). But then “life happened” 😉 and I started moving. Not so often, but regularly. I had the itch to change things in my life (places where to live or other things) every 3 years for almost 20 years. Like Jo Parfitt, I did have to reinvent myself after our last move. My carreer from my former life wasn’t possible anymore. Flexibility, curiosity, optimism help a lot, I would even say they are indispensable to live a healthy expat life. Would I do all this again? Yes. I love the challenge and am curious by nature. But I must say that when you hit a certain age, moving and changes are more difficult and you find yourself hoping to settle down at some point.

    1. Hi Ute, thanks for dropping by! And for sharing your collected wisdom. It’s always interesting to hear from a voice who can look back through the years and deliver a panorama of the experience.

  8. It’s a fascinating question with, I suspect, several right answers. Like Lindsay, I was a forces brat so this may have some influence on my own outlook. As a child I was enthralled by maps, both historic and contemporary and studied them religiously, I don’t know why. What a sad child I was! Whatever the reason, it left me with a real sense of how the world fits together and a strong interest in trying to understand why things are as they are. I’m one of those annoying geeks who can answer the history and geography questions in Trivial Pursuit (though don’t test me on science and nature). Perhaps this is part of the equation too. All I’m really sure about is that I would never have become an expat without Liam, even though it was my idea initially. Chucking myself in the deep end without a rubber ring just doesn’t fit my personality type. I keep telling myself that this is a comfort not a flaw! 🙂

    PS Thanks for the plug!

    1. Ooooh I LOVE Trivial Pursuit – sadly in the minority at the mo, we’ll have to see how the kids turn out…
      Your comment highlighted another variable to add to the mix – circumstance. Whether it’s a person or a situation, it has a huge bearing on whether you end up calling a foreign field home. After all, I thought I was set for life, popping out babies to populate my newly refurbished dream home 🙂

  9. Great article – and I completely agree that being an expat and/or being of a travelling disposition is a state of mind. I only went away on hols last year for the first time – and I found the travel stressful. For others, it’s as natural as breathing. I couldn’t see myself settling in another country either, but some people are born to roam, and travelling is part of their persona and lifestyle x

  10. Great post! I always admire ex-pats for having the ability to settle down in another country. That said I did live in Australia for 2 years before having to come home – another year I would have got residency *kicks self*

  11. My brother is a UK ex pat in Australia. I admired his inner strength to leave and he took care not to put down roots here as he always knew he wanted to emigrate, but my parents have found it hard. We’ve had to turn down job promotion offers abroad as I am the only child here to help my ageing parents. So tough finding a window to do this things in!

  12. Really interesting idea. There certainly are people ‘existing abroad’ as opposed to ‘living abroad’ and some find it easier to adapt to new cultures than others. Personally I have loved living as an expat and broadening my horizons by learning from the cultures I have lived in.

  13. What an interesting post!

    I was a total introvert, shy and totally lacking in any kind of confidence. So what did I do? I went to university to study languages… this meant spending my 3rd year abroad (for me split between Germany and Russia) and I also travelled to Switzerland and Italy during my holidays. I hate travelling as I get really bad motion sickness (especially on a plane) but the experiences were so worth it!

    Since then I have constantly challenged myself to be who I want to be and where I want to be. My dad’s speech at my wedding included a piece about him being worried about me growing up, that I would never achieve my dreams through fear and timidity… but then he ended that with “I should have known better… beneath it all Amanda always had a dogged resilience and determination to succeed”. This has led me, since having a child, to write a book (now co-authored and due to be published this year) as well as taking massive steps to make the career I want. I am so different to how I thought I would be, how I expected to be based on the culture around me, it shocks even me some days.

    I never thought of it this way though until I read your post x

    1. See? You are the perfect example of someone who may never have realised the breadth of their potential through thinking things were beyond their scope. Thanks for stopping by to share your experience and good luck with the book.

  14. Great article Aisha. I’ve always wondered about this. I grew up in a teeny village (a hamlet actually) in an environment where there was little exposure to the world at large but somehow here I am having lived on three continents/five countries. I’ve also noticed that, of my classmates from my teeny tiny primary school, we’re either still in close proximity of where we grew up or we’re living in other countries. On this basis, I’ve thought that there must be something innate – a sense of adventure, an lack of fear of the unknown, a ability to see the possibilities…..? There’s got to be a PhD thesis in there somewhere 🙂

    1. I agree, wouldn’t it make for an interesting study? There are so many contradictions. Whenever expats move somewhere new and begin to make friends, the same refrain is always heard, “Oh, you’re so brave/adventurous/unhinged. I could never start all over again in another country.” I used to think to myself, “Oh yes you could, there’s nothing remarkable about me – I’m not particularly accomplished/successful/confident/brave.” Everyone has the seeds for these qualities inside them, it’s all about whether they get what they need to grow. I guess in some people they lay dormant all their life, but I just wanted to wake people up to the possibilities.

    1. I’m the same Fritha – a complete homebody, never happier than when I’m ‘nesting’ (making plans with the Ikea catalogue). I found out to my surprise that one does not rule out the other.

  15. What a great question! I tend to think it is a little of both. Certainly people born with a sense of adventure and curiosity do well as expats and I think every expat needs a little dose of that to thrive, but I also think expats are made. The more you find you can roll with the punches, the more resilient you become. The more you discover about the world and find yourself fascinated with it, the more you can’t see yourself staying in one place.

  16. I don’t think there is enough room in the comments section to pen a really appropriate reply as there is no set definition of ‘expatriate’. There are too many variables so it is a great topic very open to interpretation. However, I’ll give it a go. But before I go on I must say it’s a great post and a wonderful topic. There must be so many reasons why people leave their homeland which means that it is surely wrong to try and categorise ex-pats in any way. Why? Well let’s consider just three of the myriad exp-pats and see: TAX EXILES – people who make so much money they’d rather live somewhere they don’t want to, when they don’t need to, just to save paying taxes they wouldn’t even notice they are paying. They are ex-pats but are they born ex-pats – don’t think so! CRIMINALS – People who are wanted by the authorities and seek a haven elsewhere with no extradition. They spend the rest of their lives living in hope in a foreign land looking over their shoulder. Are they born ex-pats – don’t think so! HARD-TIMERS& RETIREES – People who have got to the point where they cannot afford to live in their homeland and must seek an alternative country where the cost of living is low enough for them to maintain some quality of life. that includes many pensioners. Are they born ex-pats – don’t think so! Maybe we could give intrepid travellers, explorers and settlers in another land a better name than ex-pat. I need time to think!!

  17. I love this piece, and the comments it has generated. I’ve long been convinced there was something deep inside me (way down deep) that made expat life inevitable. But born or made? I can argue both sides. I love your wording of some expats simply ‘doing time’ overseas – and it is so true. Any one can become an expat, making the move is easy, but it takes a certain state of mind to be a contented expat. As I said, you prompted me to put pen to paper: http://lifewithadoublebuggy.blogspot.nl/2014/01/awakening-sleeping-expat-giant.html
    Thank you!

  18. I love this article. The ideas of expats being ‘born’ and of some people being ‘expats-in-waiting’ both ring true for me. Growing up it was always my intention to live overseas and try to see as much of the world as possible. Instead I allowed myself to be (happily) distracted, and over 30 years of marriage and 3 wonderful children kept me grounded in one country (although we did move house a number of times). But things have changed: the children are all off doing their own thing (which is just as it should be) and I am now single again. This is not quite how I had planned it at all but, now that I am ‘healing’ from all the pain I am planning some adventures in other countries. I cannot recapture the dreams I once had – and I am not sure that I would want to- but I can follow new ones., to new horizons and experiences. The way I see it, I am not so much ‘on my own, but rather ‘free’, and I intend to make the most of it.

  19. We thought about living in America for a year and have sort of discussed living in Italy off and on but I don’t know if we’d ever actually do it.

    I do love that quotation – it’s a great one to live by.

  20. Hi Aisha,
    Great post…. as usual you got me thinking. I too liked the phrase ‘doing time’ – through twelve countries and many, many relocations I have known people, men and women, who see their time abroad as an interlude. Curiosity is I think the key to any change, and helps us remain open and flexible to new cultures and ideas. Voltaire says it best, “When we travel, what we discover is always ourselves.”

  21. I like this blog and the thought behind it. Travel is different to moving to a new place and you have acknowledged many of the psychological challenges. Moving to a new country is not just about getting a job and trying to learn a new language and culture. Those who accept the challenge will usually find that the biggest problem is casting their normal safety net aside completely. Having no family around, no friends, no person who is close enough to share personal thoughts with. Of course, if you move for work then you can enjoy a beer with colleagues, but those people will not be particularly close so you need a lot of confidence and personal strength to make it work. I’m English and moved to Brazil. I have learned enough Portuguese to get by and I am always trying to learn more, but if you combine being a 12hr flight from friends and family with an entirely new language, it can be a challenge sometimes. An additional challenge is to watch old friends move in new directions without your involvement at all. Facebook makes it possible to remain in touch, but if you only meet once every two years, can they still be classified as close friends? Living in a new country does require an openness of mind. Whether that is born or learned is a moot point, but it is like comparing an entrepreneur to a person who has worked in the same company all their life, or the person who has never bought any new music since they left university… some people are naturally open to new experiences and seek them out and these are usually the ones that will thrive overseas in a new home – regardless of culture or language.

  22. This is really interesting. I feel the same as many of the other commenters – I would love to travel more but I can’t bare the thought of moving away from my extended family for too long. x

  23. Hi Aisha! Love reading your blogs, as you know.
    I, however, never chose to leave the country of my birth – & as much as I love travelling, exploring, being a part of The World – i will always be a bit sad that i am not a functioning member of my homeland – & more importantly – a hands on member of my large family in my homeland.
    I am a visitor when I “go home” & I am a foriegner in the country I live in. I am conscious of this every single day. I embrace my life here & yet miss my life there. I have parallel lives – rarely do the two meet.
    I am an entreprenuer, a risk taker, an adventurer and an optimist with an innate joy of life.
    But oh how I wish i could make my two worlds meet without the tyranny of distance.
    I have lived abroad for a long time, in the country of my husband’s birth. I think in my case i have been made, not born into this role.
    I may well be in the minority! But it is very much a reality for me.
    (& that is enough about ME – now back to everybody else 😉

  24. A really interesting post. I have moved many. many times but have generally stayed within the county. I don’t think I would ever move too far away from what my heart holds dear. (Although in my head I would move to Prince Edward island and become Anne of Green Gables.)

    1. “(Although in my head I would move to Prince Edward island and become Anne of Green Gables.)” I LOVE this Louisa! My 8-y-o daughter is reading ‘Anne Of Green Gables’ right now and just the other night we were talking about going to PEI and seeing the setting…

  25. Thank you for your very interesting post. I find the comments it evoked fascinating. One of 5, I’m the only one to have left the US. My mother took me on board the “Normandie” docked in NY harbor when I was 11 and my mind was made up. It was France for me. In my first marriage to a French diplomat I traveled the world. It became too stressful after 18 years (both the moving and the life as a diplomat’s wife) and I remarried (another Frenchman!) and settled in France, although even here I’ve moved countless times. I always enjoyed discovering new cultures and people and still do. For me it was innate, but obviously it was not so for my siblings. Wanderlust is something inside you. Nobody knows how it gets there.

  26. Thanks for the plug, Aisha. I enjoyed writing that post and, as per some of the comments above, it was based on an off-hand comment from somebody who said to me “I’m so envious of what you’ve done but I could never do that myself, never leave my family, never give it all up”. It made me realise there’s something inherent and deep inside us that allows some people to nurture their sense of adventure, freedom to take risks, and embrace a lack of fear of the unknown, while others don’t. Looking back, I knew I would live a different way of life – it was always on the cards. I was a shy boy with no ambition or desire to leave home or family but that same self-restricting attitude developed into the complete opposite as I got older – I wanted to break away and explore, make my own backyard much larger, and regret as little as possible. It was always there inside me, it just took the right time, people and circumstance to unlock it. And I truly believe some people can and want to unlock this, others can’t or won’t… or simply don’t have it. It doesn’t make us special, it just makes us different. And whether that’s good different or bad different, well that’s for each one of us to decide. Perfect post topic – you got your readers talking! 😉

  27. Interesting question. A lot of expats didn’t really make a choice, Trailing spouses for example, often don’t relish yet another move, but they do learn to live with it and many learn to adapt and make the best of it. That may have something to do with their personality and innate something or other, but if we’re forced to deal with something, it often makes us more adaptable next time around.

  28. Really enjoyed this post and you bring up a lot of interesting questions. I really like the idea that expats are “those who realize there’s more to it”. Expats, especially children, are often bi-lingual and that definitely gives you a wider outlook on life.
    Something I’ve often wondered about being an expat is whether it’s possible to go “truly native” when you’ve lived long-term in a country or will you always be an expat? I wrote about it here

  29. Hi Aisha,

    I like the idea you posed, although I’m more likely to agree with the view someone else posted in response to your article; that expats aren’t made, but a certain type of people are more likely to thrive as expats. Me and my husband grew up as TCK’s in Asia and the Middle East, and while we’ve found ourselves continuing down the expat lifestyle as adults, many old schoolmates, family and friends with similar experiences have chosen to ‘roost at home’, so to speak. Having set up an expat coffee meet-up for women in Frankfurt where I currently live, I see the same thing around me – certain people are able to ‘thrive’ in a context of new cultural frameworks, linguistic obstacles and social obscurity – whereas others find it much harder to find their bearing. I think the crux here isn’t being ‘born’ as an expat-to-be, but rather having the mental and emotional skillset to make something out of nothing, to turn obstacles into opportunities, to be vulnerable, to dare to fuck up and to put yourself out there.

  30. Great questions! I especially love that you said “Expats are among those who realize there’s more to it — no one HAS to do something they don’t want to do for the rest of their life.” I was born an expat, even though I didn’t leave my home country until I was 16. (If I could have moved abroad in Kindergarten I would have. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t share my enthusiasm for living abroad.) Once I moved abroad it was like a part of me that had always been there was finally able to get some air. I’m not currently an expat but I still feel like one. It’s a state of mind, as you said. And every year I understand that we really don’t have to live/work/be any specific way if we don’t want to in a deeper way. It’s so freeing and makes life so much more interesting.

    Thanks for linking this post to the #MyGlobalLife link-up!

    1. “Once I moved abroad it was like a part of me that had always been there was finally able to get some air” – what a great way of putting it. Thanks for dropping by to comment.

  31. Read this piece a while back on my phone and it got me thinking. Whether it is nature or nurture, or a mix of both that makes us resilient, I found expat life to be a challenge and a joy and yet at times emotionally very difficult (absolutely understand those who think they couldn’t bare the separation). Even so I’m glad I had those experiences and adventures abroad and perhaps more importantly so are our children. Thanks Aisha for opening up the conversation.

  32. Hello Aisha.
    The other day a plumber called me to take an appointment for some work at our place. He spoke only his dialect, and even after I had made clear I could barely understand German, let alone any dialect, he kept talking to me in his exotic Swiss-German dialect.
    I thought about that episode a lot afterwards. What I realized was that – although anxious and even a bit upset about the situation – in the end I had had a lot of fun, felt challenged (and learnt some new words). Now, I’m sure that such a attitude is not for everybody. It’s something you either have our you don’t. If you don’t – God save you – you’re going to be a very unhappy expat after some time abroad.
    That being said, if I were a powerful politician in my home country I would endorse measures to make convenient for the youths to spend at least 6 months abroad during school years. Just to let them know that there’s something else out there, something different, and that things don’t need necessarily to be the way they are at home. Something that can be very useful even if you decide to stay in your birth country.
    Best hugs

    1. Totally agree with you, travel should be compulsory – perhaps then we’d raise a generation with a broader understanding of what it means to be human, instead of being defined by country/religion/custom.

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